Guard play is the X-factor in Thursday's fantasy hoops

Guard play is the X-factor in Thursday's fantasy hoops

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Guard play is the X-factor in Thursday's fantasy hoops

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(Mike DiNovo, USA TODAY Sports)
(Mike DiNovo, USA TODAY Sports)

The forward spot is loaded with great fantasy plays from the three NBA playoff games Thursday.

New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis and Cleveland Cavaliers small forward LeBron James are must-plays. Slotting in under them are Chicago Bulls power forward Pau Gasol, teammate Jimmy Butler and Golden State Warriors power forward Draymond Green. All three are safe, solid plays. With that said, we'll focus mostly on the backcourt, where you'll find the biggest wild cards of the day.

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Featured stud

G Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers at Celtics
$7,500 salary | 15.0% of cap

Irving has essentially done what he wants on offense the first two games of the series, averaging 28 points per game. He's not producing a lot in other categories, but his scoring binge was good enough for 42.3 and 40.3 FantasyScore points in each game. Irving is thriving in his first taste of the playoffs and is worth the price.

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Start

C Andrew Bogut, Warriors at Pelicans
$4,200 salary | 8.4% of cap

You have to save cap space somewhere for all the high-end players needed in today's lineups. Bulls center Joakim Noah has been fine in the first two games, but owners can save big for similar production from Bogut. His 38.5-fantasy point average is larger than Noah's, but he's inconsistent. Bogut posted 12 boards in each of the first two games of the series, and he presents the most bang for your buck at center.

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G Derrick Rose, Bulls at Bucks
$5,800 salary | 10.8% of cap

Rose opened eyes with his slashing to the hoop in the first two games, reminiscent of his MVP form. He scored 37.5 and 39.8 fantasy points, respectively, to open the series, and his fearlessness gives us reason to believe it'll continue. He's at a midrange price, which enables owners to really benefit.

G Isaiah Thomas, Celtics vs. Cavaliers
$5,200 salary | 10.4% of cap

The speedy guard has averaged 31 minutes in the first two games of the series, up from the 25.8 he averaged during the regular season. He has delivered with 22 points and 8.5 assists per game. Thomas is the team's best scoring option, and Cleveland hasn't done much to contain him. His salary is ripe for consistent scoring above his pay grade.

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Bench

F Ryan Anderson, Pelicans vs. Warriors
$4,200 salary | 8.4% of cap

Anderson's role has really diminished of late as he has averaged just 9.9 fantasy points per game in the series. In fact, he has touched 20 fantasy points once in the last 10 games. Ordinarily, we'd take a chance on the 3-point-shooting big man at this price, but not right now.

G Michael Carter-Williams, Bucks vs. Bulls
$6,200 salary | 12.4% of cap

MCW has been held in check in this series and is shooting just 36% from the floor. Another glaring issue is he has five assists combined in the two games. Averaging just 23.9 FantasyScore points per game during the stretch, we're looking elsewhere.

HoopsHype and USA TODAY Fantasy Sports offer daily fantasy basketball advice throughout the 2014-15 season. Play for free or for prizes at FantasyScore today.

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